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Vizio to Pay $2.2 Million for Collecting Smart TV User Data Without Consent

Manufacturer sold information collected to third parties, complaint alleges

Vizio will pay $2.2 million for collecting data from smart TV users without the users’ consent, the Federal Trade Commission and the New Jersey Attorney General’s office announced Monday.

The complaint against the company stated that beginning in February 2014, Vizio and an affiliated company have manufactured a smart TV that captures second-by-second information about video displayed, including that from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts and streaming devices.

In addition, the agencies allege that: 1) Vizio sold this information to third parties, who used it for various purposes, including targeting advertising to consumers across devices, and 2) that the consumer electronics company enabled the addition of specific demographic information to that data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership and household value.

According to the complaint, Vizio touted its “Smart Interactivity” feature that “enables program offers and suggestions” but failed to inform consumers that the settings also enabled the collection of their viewing habits.

The stipulated federal court order requires Vizio to prominently disclose and obtain consent for its data collection and sharing practices.

It also requires the company to delete data collected before March 1, 2016, and to implement a comprehensive data privacy program and biennial assessments of that program.

The $2.2 million payment includes a payment of $1.5 million to the FTC and $1 million to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, with $300,000 of that amount suspended.